In order for a human being to reach speeds over 800mph, there needs to be some serious forces involved. You might think I’m referring to horsepower, or better yet rocket power, but actually, that’s child’s play compared to the force I’m referring too. I’m talking about gravity. For example, say you wanted to do the ultimate skydive and you somehow managed to reach an altitude of 127,852.4, how fast do you think you’d go during free fall?
Well, thanks to Austrian-born daredevil, and complete lunatic, Felix Baumgartner, we now know the answer to that question. It’s 843.6 miles per hour. On October 14, 2012, Felix strapped himself into a small capsule that was attached to a helium-filled balloon that stood over 550 feet tall. He then proceeded to go up roughly 24 miles, or 127,8524 feet above the launch site at Roswell, New Mexico International Air Center. Once he reached this mind blowing altitude, he simply took a step into the record books.
Something like this takes a serious amount of planning and money. In order for Felix to survive at that altitude, he needed to have a fully pressurized space suit custom built for him. According to reports the jump almost didn’t happen because Felix was struggling with panic attacks caused by the claustrophobia from the helmet he was required to wear. Not only that, but the capsule, and that balloon for example. It required 40 acres of ultrathin plastic material to make, 40 acres! The capsule also had to be fully pressurized to keep Felix alive during the ascension.
Once Felix took that step he started falling back down to earth, gaining momentum with ever second that passed. On a standard skydive from say 13,000 feet, the average free fall time should be approximately 60 seconds before you need to pull the chute and save yourself. However, when Felix jumped from 127,852.4 feet, his free fall lasted 4 minutes and 20 seconds before he had to pull his chute. During the free fall, he broke the sound barrier and reached 843.6mph. Even though he traveled roughly 119,000 feet during free fall, he still was approximately 8,000 feet off the ground. The entire mission from when he took off till he landed lasted just under 3 hours.
Felix Baumgartner was able to reach this monumental achievement thanks to courage, strength, and willpower, as well as the quality of equipment used and preparation for the event. One of the main sponsors was Red Bull, and they had specially placed cameras all over the place both inside the capsule and on the ground, and the POV of Felix himself. Plus they set it up so that they entire world could watch the jump take place live. So In case you missed it, watch history being made as Felix Baumgartner takes a single step into the record books.